ISS astronauts view Great American Eclipse from space

 The Moon's umbra as it crosses the United States on Aug. 21, 2017. The crew of the International Space Station was able to view the shadow during three back-to-back orbits. Photo Credit: NASA

The Moon's umbra as it crosses the United States on Aug. 21, 2017. The crew of the International Space Station was able to view the shadow during three back-to-back orbits. Photo Credit: NASA

On Aug. 21, 2017, millions of Americans witnessed the first total solar eclipse to cross North America from the Pacific to Atlantic coasts in 99 years. While much of the country experienced cloudy conditions, there were six people who saw the Moon's umbra from above the weather -- in space: The crew of the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photo of the Moon crossing in front of the sun during the 2017 total solar eclipse. He was in space aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: Randy Bresnik / NASA

With an orbital re-boost on Aug. 9, 2017, the space station was lined up to be able to cross the path of the eclipse three times. While none of those passed under the umbra, the Moon's full shadow, the outpost did travel into the penumbra, the area of partial shadow. The point of maximum eclipse for the six onboard was 84 percent.

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik took images of the eclipse while the other crew members, NASA's Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer, the European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy, observed and took pictures of the umbra touching the Earth.

While a large chuck of areas in the Midwest and some of the South had cloudy weather or worse, the western states of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming had nearly perfect skies. It was in the latter state that NASA photographer Bill Ingalls ventured to capture the ISS traveling across the Sun as the moon was partially in front of the Sun as well.

Author side-note: Check out these photos of the eclipse taken by me, Derek Richardson, near Glenrock, Wyoming.

A sequence of photos of the Great American Eclipse of 2017. Photo Credit: Derek Richardson / Orbital Velocity

A composite of several exposures of totality. While human eyes can see a wide range of details, it is difficult for one image to capture the full scope of the eclipse. In reality, it often requires multiple exposures stacked on top of each other. Photo Credit: Derek Richardson / Orbital Velocity

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Derek Richardson

I am a space geek who loves to write about space.

My passion for space ignited when I watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on October 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, I soon realized that my true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

Currently, I am a senior at Washburn University studying Mass Media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism. In addition to running Orbital Velocity, I write for the Washburn Review and am the Managing Editor for SpaceFlight Insider.